We are on the edge of the precipice
staring precariously down into an abyss,
awaiting a symphony of violence to come.
Europe once again finds itself on the brink of war.
War drums echo loudly from Moscow, where orders from the Duma give life to the mobilisation of over a hundred thousand Russian troops. These forces are amassed outside Ukraine, awaiting the order to cross into the country and push to Kyiv–the beating heart of the country. Accompanied by helicopters, tanks and artillery, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin aims to break the country in two.
The sovereignty of Ukraine is directly under threat of disintegration. This is due to Russia’s repeated acts of aggression against the country. Ever since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia has been chipping away at Ukraine’s independence. Putin is dissatisfied that Ukrainians wish to choose their own destiny against the will of Russia. This dissatisfaction at a people that do not want to be oppressed by his mafia state is pushing the dictator in Moscow to wage war.
Ukraine has been fighting Russia indirectly in the Donbass for the last seven years, as Putin backs breakaway republics in the region. These breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk receive the full military, economic and political support of Russia and are run as de facto police states. They are extensions of the Russian state in Ukraine! Massacres committed by these Republics are commonplace, especially for those dissidents who reject Moscow’s imposition.
The independence of Ukraine as a sovereign state continues to be undermined by the existence of these breakaway republics. Their purpose is only to serve as political tools for Putin to use to carve up the country. Nova Russia, an imperial fantasy that is part of Russia’s desires to regain the sphere of influence it lost when the people rejected Soviet tyranny, is the prime goal of the rhetoric of Moscow. Another goal is to prevent Ukraine from pursuing its own destiny by joining the EU and NATO. The former provides it with a path out of Russian economic interference, while the latter serves to protect it from the very aggression Russian demonstrates now.
Yet, western European states who are meant to show solidarity with Ukraine at the moment have stalled on the requests of Ukrainians. Instead, these states choose to downplay and outright court Putin to appease him. France and Germany are most guilty of it, as Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron venture back and forth on “dates” with Putin. These efforts are fruitless, as Paris and Berlin fail to realise that Moscow has no interest in adhering to international law. Putin views the Western order as a failure that deserves no respect and treats it as such.
The Germans won’t even give up a natural gas pipeline! They are more interested in their economy rather than the continued sovereignty of a nearby state. It is a disgrace to Ukraine and to its people who are fearing an increase in Russian tanks that are likely to roll their way to the Dnieper River. The Americans aren’t that much different to the French and Germans, as Biden insists on threatening Russia with economic sanctions if Putin invades, rather than slapping them for threats of aggression. It just seems that Europe and the West are disinterested in preventing another war in Europe!
Is the international community just going to sit back and watch Russia annex Eastern Ukraine? Are we going to forget about this in a year’s time and pretend it never happened when Putin goes for the rest of Ukraine next time round? When are we going to draw a red line? Our obligation if we are to keep this international world order, we always talk about it to the people of Ukraine who demand our support and solidarity. We cannot keep allowing autocrats to annex territory. Whether it be in Georgia or Ukraine. It must end.
I believe this war will create millions of displaced people from Ukraine. Many will flee westward to neighbouring Poland. The Dnieper River that divides the country down the middle will be the new demarcation line between western Ukraine – with its new capital in Lviv – and the new de facto republics created after Russian annexation in the east. The sovereignty of Ukraine as a state will be significantly reduced in the process.
I do not believe this should be the case. There should be concerted action in the form of solidarity and the enforcement of red lines in defence of Ukraine. Ukraine cannot be allowed to disappear into the annals of history as it once did long ago. The people of Ukraine deserve to have self-determination. The world owes it that much, especially since it already signed an agreement back in 1994 called the Budapest Memorandum that ensured its sovereignty would be protected. That treaty has since been broken and the international community failed Ukraine by not acting back in 2014.
A precedent must be set in stone so that autocracies like Russia no longer threaten the very existence of democratic states abroad. Allowing Ukraine to disintegrate harms the international order. It pushes countries to rearm and creates an environment ripe for instability and insecurity. For the sake of the world, defending Ukraine means defending this order in essence.
We must show solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their moment of resistance. May they have the strength to resist Russian imperial aggression and defend their homeland against invaders.
Written by Anthony Avice Du Buisson (17/02/2022)